Hampstead tennis ace Harriet Dart crashes out at Wimbledon
- Credit: PA
Disappointed Harriet Dart crashed out of Wimbledon in the first round after losing in straight sets to 13th seed Elise Mertens.
Dart is a member of the LTA’s Pro Scholarship Programme, which provides world-class coaching, medical and financial support to Britain’s elite young players with the potential to reach the top 100 within five years.
The 24-year-old from Hampstead, lost the first five games before finding her rhythm against a player ranked 105 places higher, winning four of the next 10 on Court 18 but never recovered as she went down 6-1 6-3 to her Belgian opponent.
“I mean there were definitely some positives to take but overall a little bit disappointed,” said Dart, who received a wildcard and was one of nine British women in the main draw - the most for 27 years.
“Look, it was always going to be a challenging match against a very experienced player.
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“She’s the ranking she is because she can consistently play at that level.
“I didn’t start very well but managed to get back into it in the second set.
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“But the problem is when you play such a high-ranked opponent a lot of that is a bit too late.”
Dart appeared to be struggling for rhythm on her own serve but could not put her finger on what went wrong.
“I don’t know, I’ve been serving quite well this grass season and throughout the year,” she said.
“Maybe some nerves, maybe sometimes some things are a little bit off in the game. I don’t think there was anything in particular.”
On her last appearance at Wimbledon two years ago, Dart was beaten by world No.1 Ash Barty in the third round, but she could not make it through her opening encounter on her return to SW19.
Dart started the second set strongly against Mertens, holding to love in the opening game.
But a double fault gave the 2018 Australian Open semi-finalist a 4-1 lead with two breaks of serve.
Dogged Dart showed her mettle by breaking her opponent’s serve for the first time to make it 4-2 before consolidating by holding.
However, Mertens won the last two games to set up a round two clash against Chinese star Zhu Lin.
World No.142 Dart had to wait an extra day to grace the grass at the All England Club as rain saw her match postponed from Monday to Tuesday.
But Dart - who made the semi-finals of the mixed doubles with compatriot Jay Clarke in 2018 - insisted the scheduling changes did not impact her preparation.
“Not really, everyone's in the same boat,” said the British No.3.
“We got cancelled pretty early, so had a lot of time to kind of rest and recuperate and be ready for today.
“I guess the schedule came out late, but I was expecting to play first or second, so that wasn't a surprise.”
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